‘I think that anything can get resolved in communication, and I think that what I love about it is that it adds value to people. If you go to a court, they deal with the substantive issues, but the conflict is not really resolved, particularly when there’s an ongoing relationship….it can be in business, it can be in the family. The conflict has such a big impact on people’s mental health, their finances, their everything.”

Background and Education and MBBI

Lisanne Iriks is a mediator, conflict coach, and dispute resolution educator based in Perth, Australia, where she runs her own mediation practice. After completing her Masters degree in Law in the Netherlands, where she was born and raised, Lisanne began her work with a large firm specializing in corporate law. However, she realized fairly quickly that the aspect of the work that was most passionate about was working with people, and dispute resolution through direct engagement. Before moving to Australia and working in mediation, Lisanne also studied mental health counseling for a year. This work expanded her understanding of the power of mediation and dispute resolution as an inherently empathetic practice that works to engage with people and meet them on common ground, as they are. With a deep interest in the law and negotiation, but an understanding of the importance of emotional intelligence and mental health awareness, it was almost inevitable that Lisanne would thrive as a mediator.

Life as Mediator

After moving to Australia, Lisanne completed her mediation training, and began working for the Department of Corrective Services in victim-offender mediation. She has since worked tirelessly at the practice of mediation, always aiming to learn more within the field – and eventually, she began to teach others. After starting her own practice in 2011, Life Mediation, Lisanne has worked in every aspect of the field from family conflict resolution to mediating workplace disputes. It is clear that she truly believes in the way that mediation on a small scale, between two individuals, can work to improve the whole community; she says she finds the small, incremental changes for good the most rewarding part of what she does. Part of the reason behind Lisanne’s success lies in the ways she demonstrates true authenticity in her style of mediation and as a facilitator, balancing empathy with honesty and a straightforward communication style, which she finds helps her to build trust and rapport with her clients and students. She also works in her personal life to not back down from conflict and truly believes that being able to work through issues together adds value in an ongoing relationship, whether with a family member, a colleague, or a spouse.

Teaching conflict resolution

Recently, Lisanne launched her podcast called ‘Conversations to Cut the Conflict’, which is beginning with a series to work through conflict in personal relationships, and episodes that involve prominent and widely recognized peacebuilders such as José Ramos-Horta. She is an ideal candidate to conduct a podcast on this subject because she teaches conflict resolution nearly as often as she practices it; she is a guest lecturer at Murdoch University’s School of Law, she also launched an online program called Conflict Resolution Fundamentals and conducts personal conflict coaching and group work.

Additionally, she sometimes does pro bono work with an organization called Zero to Hero, a program for teenagers that is committed to suicide prevention through working with them to promote mental health awareness in their communities.  She conducts classes on conflict resolution for them and focuses on how conflict doesn’t have to be scary, and how to face it head-on and use it to build your own strengths and relationships. Conflict resolution as an essential life skill is a clear part of Lisanne’s daily work; We learn to cook, we learn to swim, we learn to do things we use on a daily basis. We put time, money, and effort into these things – and conflict resolution is something we do on a daily basis, but it isn’t taught at school or when we grow up.’

A forward-thinking practice

Despite being involved in her own practice, consulting for companies, and coaching and teaching conflict resolution in many different ways, Lisanne knows that it is vital not to wear oneself out, especially when the work involves the exhausting practice of being involved in the conflict. She switches up her schedule weekly to make sure that she is always being challenged in new ways, and she always makes time for exercise and being outdoors with her family.

When asked for her advice to those starting out in the field, Lisanne stressed the importance of making manageable goals and then truly going after them without hesitation: ‘get a really good mentor…always look for someone who inspires you, and don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Also, do whatever you need to do to get experience; think about why people would want to hire you, break it down into manageable steps, and then get out there and get that experience – complete those steps.’

Article by Lizzy Nestor, MBBI Writer